Archive for universe

New Zodiac Signs? Panic? Turmoil?

Posted in Skepticism with tags , , , , on January 15, 2011 by theicidalmaniac

The Facebook is a-flurry this week with a lot of hubbub about a new zodiac sign being recognized, and adding to the panic is the fact that people’s sense of wellbeing is being besieged, plagued even, by worries that matters of fate will no longer be crystal clear through a detailed understanding of time-honored astrological principles, due to the fact that the signs’ places in the Earth’s night sky have shifted due to the wobbly orbit of our little planet.

All of this got me thinking.  Thinking hard.

When I was born Aries was the predominant sign. So hypothetically speaking…(stay with me here)…had I been on the MOON when I was born, and the moon had been between the Earth and the constellation Aries, I would have been even CLOSER to the great goat sign in the sky, and thus more strongly influenced by it.  Doesn’t this mean, therefore, that an April baby on the moon would grow up to be even MORE stubborn and goatish than an Earth baby?

Of COURSE it does.

Obviously.

Crap. Imagine what it’s going to be like when future-people finally leave Earth for good and terraform other planets like Neptune, or Uranus, thinking they have conquered the solar system only to find out that their children are all being born with socially-crippling personality disorders relating to their new proximity to the influence of these powerful stellar arrangements, causing the fledgling human settlements to collapse under self-destructive cancer-on-pisces warfare.  O, the bitter irony!

I have to wonder, though, how this incredible cosmic force affects GOATS who were born in early April. And I wonder if bulls that were born under the sign of Aries ever feel like a goat trapped in a Taurus’ body. Like, is a bull that was born on May 1st more of a bull than one that was born April 1st? Sorry…that’s a silly question.  Of COURSE it is.

Obviously.

But in all seriousness…

…isn’t it amazing that a stone-aged superstition remains intact after all these thousands of years of technology advancement and migration, that it survives despite being at opposition to every premise of physics and biology that we are aware of, and that it flourishes with nothing to support it but pure faith and the notion that it gives meaning to people’s lives?

Gosh.  Really makes you think, don’t it?  I wonder what ELSE we could say that about.  I wonder if there’s anything, anything at all, that many MANY MANY people believe in RIGHT NOW, that is the same kind of hocus-pocus…

Nah.  Doesn’t seem likely that we’d make that mistake more than once.

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I think I just proved that there is no God!

Posted in Atheism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2008 by theicidalmaniac

Alright the title is a little ambitious, and sort of a hook, I know. In fact I think that the whole God thing was never sufficiently REASONABLY posited, but it has taken hold so well that I think it a worthy topic for loud skepticism. That skepticism has been applied by many thinkers with minds far more powerful than my own, but here is another argument to throw on the pile, if you deem it fit. I wrote this in early 2006 while drunk:

So, ok, say you are the Creator of EVERYTHING. This means that at some point there was ONLY YOU. Now of course we’re familiar with the obvious response; “who created You, the Creator?” (and more intriguing, what were You made from?) And it’s also pretty interesting to ask “what did You make everything from, since there really was nothing in existence for You to use as raw material?”
These questions are all familiar ground for those of us who call ourselves freethinkers, and there is a never-ending buffet-trough of regurgitated slop that has been spewed forth from the mouths of those who care to ignore the concept behind the question, and who continue to clutch their security blankets. This swill is often presented in the A Priori argument. It is obvious that the ideas of centuries past still dominate the playing field for much of the world’s population. The answer for these people is encapsulated by the belief that God always existed, that He created EVERYTHING, and that He did it EX NIHILO.
But is that even a possible scenario? Are we the centerpiece of an omniscient engineer’s intelligent design? What evidence exists to suggest that the design was intelligent, or the disigner for that matter? Is there reason to believe in an intelligent designer?
Intelligence is really just the ability to process information. It also may include self-awareness as a functional feature, as in Turing’s model of artificial intelligence. There are serious problems with attempting to reconcile one’s understanding of intelligence with one’s understanding the A PRIORI argument. Two facts that pose a great threat to this argument are as follows;

  1. Awareness of the self is seeing yourself as separate from all that surrounds you.
  2. In order to process information THERE MUST NECESSARILY BE information to process.

The argument that an intelligent designer intentionally created the universe from nothing cannot hold up to scrutiny in light of these two facts. Again let us suppose that You are the Creator:

1) Awareness of the self only comes when you see yourself as seperate from all that surrounds you. Prior to creation NOTHING surrounded You to provide this juxtaposition. Without anything outside of the self the very idea of the self holds no meaning. Without this idea of self, what reasons would there be for doing things? How can you feel that You must do a thing, if you are not aware that there is a You? The only presences that act in this way, that is without planning or awareness, are our physical laws. So perhaps God is just some universal force, you say? Many have made this claim, strange as it is [*Note, I believe that this is essentially what Einstein believed, and he famously wondered whether God would have then had any choice in creating the universe – Aug 2008]. But these laws and forces do not operate with intent and can ONLY operate ON PHYSICAL THINGS, because they are merely descriptions of the way things act. If physical things have not yet been created by You, then there is nothing for a cosmic force to act upon, thus rendering the force impotent, in effect non-existent. If You are that force, then you can see the problem this creates for you.

2) In order to process information THERE MUST NECESSARILY BE information to process. But if there existed at this time NOTHING, there is nothing about which there could BE information. There would be nothing to process, and therefore no intelligence. The end result is an unintelligent processor, if one assumes that the creator did always exist.
This leads to the more important question; “If there was nothing except You, how would You know to create anything?” Where would the idea come from? What patterns, rules, or laws would you follow? What would provide inspiration? This is an important question, because a fundamental element of processing information is the INPUT sequence. As with any processor – anything that could be said to calculate or THINK – there must be something TO calculate, something to ponder, something to think ABOUT. What can be given as an output is largely, in fact overwhelmingly, dependant on what has been given as an input. In a complex system such as a brain there are likely uncountable POSSIBLE outputs to a given input, due to the large number of variables such as heredity, environment and past history. But in an atmosphere of nothing, there are precisely ZERO variables, by definition. If, within this NOTHING, there is only a single variable X (X being You, the Creator) there would still be only ONE possible output. In mathematical terminology this can be rephrased as X = X, or in this case, 0 = 0.
The Creator Itself is not just a part of the Nothing, because nothing has no parts. So to return to the question of “what were You made from?” the answer is surprisingly simple. You are, of course, made from nothing – You don’t exist.

Of course the argument that there MUST be a beginning is not the strongest argument one can make. Of course every man-made thing on the planet was created and therefore has a beginning. This is how man creates. But what about the natural elements of the earth. What about trees? Do trees have a beginning? An indiviual tree is just the sprout of a seed, and the seed itself is only a growth at the extremities of another tree, itslef merely a sprout of another seed and so on and so forth, as if all trees in a family are only extensions of themselves.
If we could travel back through time to find the moment trees were born you would have no clearer answers either. A species, a genera, a variety or a race, none of them form in a single instant. They are shaped slowly, generation by generation. The creature that gave birth to trees did so in small steps and at a terribly slow pace, each generation looking slightly (and probably unnoticeably) less like it’s parents and more like today’s trees. Neither will they remain as they are now forever; look far enough to the future and the trees we know will no longer be found. But the strange plants from the future would be only extensions of the branch of life that trees are a part of. You can even perform an experiment on plants to test this theory in your own garden.

In other words, go back as far as you like and you will never find a clear beginning, only an ancestor, a precursor, a primative forerunner. The same is true for other life forms on this planet and the fossil record supports this claim. You can say as much for any living thing and still you have found no clear beginning, and no reason to assume that there is one, or that the Cosmos create in the same way that man does.